Crash danger shows why F1 drivers’ salaries should not be capped – Perez

2022 British Grand Prix

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The huge crash at the start of the British Grand Prix was a reminder of the danger Formula 1 drivers face, says Sergio Perez.

Alexander Albon was taken to hospital for checks following yesterday crash and later discharged. Zhou Guanyu, whose car cleared a tyre barrier and struck a debris fence, was also cleared after visiting the circuit medical centre.

Perez said the risks F1 drivers face justifies the salaries they receive and shows why the sport should not place a limit on how much they are paid.

F1 introduced a cap on teams’ budgets last year. Salaries of drivers and certain top team members are exempt from the limit, but the possibility of capping drivers’ pay has been discussed.

However Perez said yesterday’s crash shows why drivers deserve the pay they receive.

“When you hear people talking about putting a cap on the driver salaries, we are the ones taking all the risk out there, putting on the show,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s a good thing to be talking about that on the sport going forwards. But the most important [thing] today is that no one was hurt.”

Perez said he was “very pleased for them that they are here with us and they will be racing again.” He revealed he saw the crash in between the first start and the restart.

“I knew there was an accident, but I was back in the garage, and I was looking at the TV and they showed the accident and I was shocked. It’s been a while since we have seen such an accident like that.

“It’s hard to see that and to try to delete it from your mind and try to focus on what you have to do.”

He praised the work the sport’s governing body has done to improve safety standards in recent years and said there is more the sport can learn from Sunday’s accident.

“Well done to the FIA because we’ve come a long way,” he said. “I’m sure there are still good improvements and always good lessons to make sure we learn from today, to see the accident, to make sure that there are things we can improve.

“I don’t know if there were photographers around that were at risk. So just have a look and see if we are able to make this a safer sport for everyone.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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26 comments on “Crash danger shows why F1 drivers’ salaries should not be capped – Perez”

  1. petebaldwin (@)
    4th July 2022, 18:30

    I don’t personally buy into the “it’s dangerous so we should get paid more” line. You could also say you get to do an incredibly exciting, fun job so you should get paid less…

    I think they shouldn’t have their pay capped because there’s no reason to do so. If they were talking about capping the profits Liberty can take out of the sport alongside capping the drivers wages and putting that money towards young drivers etc then fair enough but otherwise, I can’t see the point.

    The smaller teams would still not be able to attract the best drivers because they have slower cars and they wouldn’t benefit by saving money because the cap would be above what they’re currently paying. It would only help the big teams to save a bit of money….

  2. What a terrible thing, conflating the risk of driving an F1 car with the argument that salaries should be uncapped.

    I guess riders at the Isle of Man TT should earn more then, Checo? Maybe the people that helped build the circuit at Jeddah too, given the risk to their lives?

    Yes, it’s a dangerous sport but it’s also an aspirational one, and driving for a top F1 team, any F1 team, is an absolute privilege.

    I’ve got no problem with salaries being uncapped. Just don’t try to use a horrendous crash as justification.

  3. I’d be an F1 driver for free if I could. As Murray Walker once said The passion is worth the risk, money isn’t even in the picture.

    1. The marshals all do a similarly dangerous job for the passion, and in many cases for free. Drivers are not paid what they are because of the danger.

      1. The danger element is one reason why F1 drivers are well-paid, but also, for example, marketing image.
        I’d put the danger element as the #1 factor for the above-million (any currency among the USD-Euro-GBP trio as they’re pretty equal) annual salaries, though.
        Presumably, racing drivers in other series, be that FE, WEC, IndyCar, SF, two-wheel categories, etc., also have their annual income in the millions & rally drivers+their respective co-drivers on the highest level, i.e., WRC.
        The danger element is always present throughout motorsport & its many different forms, albeit football, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, American football, baseball, & other sports players equally earn a lot on their respective highest levels despite the danger being considerably lower in other sport forms.

  4. What a silly argument. A salary cap would only make some of the highest earners earn less, meanwhile those who earn the least risk their lives equally as much, don’t they? Sergio should call for them earning more then.

    Let’s look at some of the drivers’ earnings:

    Pos Driver Team Age Salary (GBP £)
    1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 37 £32m
    2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 24 £20m
    11 Sergio Perez Red Bull 32 £6.4m
    16 Alexander Albon Williams 26 £1.6m
    17 Mick Schumacher Haas 22 £800,000
    – Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 22 £800,000
    – Nicholas Latifi Williams 26 £800,000
    20 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 21 £600,000

    Get out of here, Sergio. Yuki Tsunoda risks his life for 10x less than you, you hypocrite. It wouldn’t hurt the lavish lifestyles of Hamilton or Verstapen to earn only, say, £15m, would it?

    1. amian, strictly speaking, there is the question of what exactly constitutes the base salary and what comprises of third party earnings, because that can skew the figures.

      In at least some cases, the sums that are claimed as salaries for the drivers includes elements of pay that come from sponsors making a direct payment to the driver – that can sometimes be due to the sponsor paying for the right to then use that driver in their own adverts.

      In the case of Tsunoda, there is the complication that Tsunoda is still backed by Honda – so Tsunoda might be receiving payments or other benefits in kind from Honda that would be outside of his salary from the team. As an example of that, Tsunoda has been gifted an NSX by Honda for his own personal use, with Honda also providing support for the upkeep of that car.

      In the past, at least, it was sometimes the case that most of the payments for that driver might be mostly or entirely from a sponsor, rather than directly from the team. It’s an old example, but we now know that, because the tobacco industry had to declassify the documents, when Senna drove for McLaren, Marlboro tobacco were technically paying his salary, not McLaren.

      There is also the complication that some drivers might receive a lower salary from the team, but in return are given free reign to sign their own personal sponsorship deals and earn money from side activities – Alonso is known to have struck that sort of deal in the past, particularly at McLaren. That plays into the point that you are talking about “earnings”, which is not exactly the same as “salaries” – that implies that you are potentially adding on income from activities outside of the sport into account, which would be misleading.

      On top of that, there is a further question over whether the sums quoted are quite right given that a number of teams have performance related clauses. Sometimes, the sums quoted are that of the base salary and the performance bonuses that the driver has actually earned, and sometimes it is the base salary and the theoretical maximum that the driver could also earn in performance bonuses.

      I would therefore treat those values with a reasonable pinch of salt, because there is the possibility that you might be conflating a number of different sources of income and may be missing out on sources of revenue or benefits in kind that a driver might accrue from sources that are technically from outside of the team.

      1. Anon, of course these numbers are inaccurate for all the reasons you listed. But that’s totally beside the point, isn’t it.

        1. It is, and in fact, because of those complications, the highest-paid drivers may earn even more under a salary cap. A salary cap would limit what a team can pay drivers, but not what sponsors can pay drivers. If a salary cap works correctly and levels the playing field, it will make more drivers stars and increase their marketing value. At the same time, it will allow top drivers to wrest away their marketing rights from their teams and exploit them more fully, should they wish to do so.

          Half of Forbes’ top-ten list of highest-paid athletes play in leagues with salary caps — the NFL and NBA. Hamilton and Verstappen come in at 17th and 26th. Zak Brown once made the point on this site that the NBA is the 3rd or 4th biggest domestic league in one country. F1 is much larger, and yet its teams are valued at only a fraction of a middling NBA franchise. That has begun to change in the past couple years, but there is still some room for the sport to grow, and for drivers’ personal values to grow with it.

          On top of that, salary caps are rarely “hard” caps. The NBA and NFL both have mechanisms for teams to spend over the cap limit — a luxury tax or rollover — to retain their superstars. Considering how much the top three teams are saving through the current budget cap, I’d imagine they would be willing to pay a luxury tax to retain a Hamilton or Verstappen. And then the luxury tax revenues could go to hiring a team of legal experts to draft a coherent version of the sporting regulations and paying for Tecpro at Miami — win-win-win.

          (Ha, I kid, but only about the last part.)

  5. It’s an interesting viewpoint.

    Perhaps the extra money needed for F1 drivers could be taken from Professional Golfers or Curlers?

  6. Following this reasoning to its logical conclusion, the people that deserve the highest pay are the guys who come up with the all safety stuff. The halo inventors should be the highest paid people in the sport right now…

    1. *with all the safety stuff

  7. 1st world problems from entailed Sergio being classless as usual, using a ‘horror’ crash where the driver didn’t even break any bones or receive any concussion to justify higher pay is disgusting in itself..

    MotoGP is 100x more dangerous than F1 but you don’t see the riders complaining for more money

    Perez gets paid more than enough to be Wunderkind Max’s doormat and if he wants more pocket money to buy a new yacht he should go begging to his pay driver backer billionaire carlos slim.

  8. Given the often reckless behaviour of drivers, the marshals are frequently at greater risk than the drivers. And they’re volunteers driven by their love of motorsport. Make of that what you will.

  9. Exactly and zhou’ salary is -£20m

  10. Completely agree with Perez. F1 is a dangerous sport, the risks of paying for karting, F3, F2 and not getting into F1 are enormously high. These are the 20 best drivers in the world that get very limited practice time and are just expected to be perfect.

    In whatever metric you look at it, F1 drivers deserve high pay. At least compared to golfers, tennis players, America football players, basketball players and football players.

    A normal person cannot complete a lap in a F1 car but can play anyone of these sports.

    Anyway I don’t know why there’s no discussion of cutting team principal’s salaries?

    1. There are more sports where the risk are huge but don’t get paided so much. Watching the Winter olympics I see several dangerous ones Bobsleigh, Skeleton, Skying, Ski jumping and Sky mountainering. (even speedskating is dangerous with those knifes under your feets)

  11. Chip Hilton
    5th July 2022, 4:10

    At long as there are drivers whose sponsors buy them a seat I think it’s unjustified to say these are the 20 best drivers in the world. Lance Stroll is better than Scott Dixon? Nikita Mazepin was better than Kevin Magnussen? Because you’re not in F1 doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t good enough. No doubt there are basketball players and hockey players in Europe with the talent for the NBA and NHL who have no desire to move to North America.

  12. So Perez, your life is worth less than Verstappens or Hamiltons?
    Oh and your life is worth more than Schumacher? ….

    … Or maybe salary vs. value of life is a bad metric and you just jumped on what seemed like an argument to use in your favor, but maybe was a dumb statement after all?

  13. Perez point is somewhat valid but we have to consider the other reasons why drivers salaries should not be capped. Their popularity sells. Their image is worldwide. It sells. Why should the companies that employ them make huge profits off their image and popularity amd not share it with them? They deserve their exhorbatant salaries because there are soo few of them. They are the best at what they do and people are willing to spend their hard earned cash to watch them and also buy their merchandise. These guys are world movers. Their playing field ia literally the world over. Their salaries should match that.

    1. @Wayne:
      I feel there is more nuance to the point you’re making. There are enormous financial barriers to start a serious motorsport career. It’s not like running, football or basketball. Besides skill it takes vast resources to get in.
      And then there is also the fact that if your skill is above a flexible but acceptable threshold (determined by money again), you’re also in.
      It’s not a true meritocracy.
      So are they the best at what they do? Well, they’re the best of a very small subset of very privileged kids*
      *I’m aware of Hamiltons/Ocons backgrounds

      But regardless of that, Perez is tying value of life to salary with his remarks. And that is not a smart thing to do

      1. I agree it is more a rich kids sport. But they still are the best…. From the rich pool. Many poorer better drivers are over looked at times. But that does not negate the revenue they bring in by ttheir popularity and marjet value thru out the world. And they are still driving dangerous cars irrelevant of their financial status. Or atleast they can get into somewhat dangerous accidents from time to time.

  14. This feels a little tone deaf from Checo, I have to say.

  15. That’s not a great angle that Perez decided to take on driver pay. I’ve always thought that best argument about driver pay is that they are largely prohibited from using their name or image in any activity outside F1 or their team’s sponsors.
    If they really want to add driver salary into the budget cap then the drivers must be released to earn any extra income they might be able to.

  16. Uhhh… Sergio. Just an historical data point for you. Neil Armstrong was making just under $31,000 USD in 1969, when he climbed on board an absolutely massive rocket and set off for a cold, airless rock.

    That’s about $210,000 USD today.

    You really think your job is several orders of magnitude above Armstrong’s in terms of danger?

    1. Well neil armstrong would have have made a huge amount of money for himself if it was today. The world today is more connected than ever before. Commercialism better than ever. Morw tv exposure more online exposure more everything. So he would have made tons more money. However the race to the moon was more about political bickering amd ideology than anything else. The americans were being knocked to the floor every round in the space race. It was the 1 achievement that they managed.

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